UNIFEM receives US$3 million to boost Burundian women's role in peacebuilding

On 20 June 2007, UNIFEM received US$3 million from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund in Burundi to implement a project on Restoring the Role of Women in Reconciliation and Community Reconstruction. UNIFEM has been closely involved in the development of this joint initiative between the Government of Burundi and the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), through the provision of technical support to the Ministry for Gender.

The project aims to enhance women's economic autonomy, support reconciliation initiatives by women's organizations and increase their protection from sexual and gender-based violence, in order to promote their free and active participation in the peace consolidation process. Over the course of its one-year duration, the project will focus on the provinces of Cibitoke, Bubanza, Bujumbura Rural and three communes of Bujumbura Mairie. These areas are not only among the worst affected by armed conflict; they are also locations where women have continued to work for peaceful coexistence in their communities.

Key aspects of implementing the project will include: providing technical, financial and organizational support to women; fostering innovative reconciliation and peaceful coexistence initiatives by women's organizations; and conducting advocacy for the implementation of strategies to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence and care for survivors. The funds for this project, managed by UNIFEM, will complement resources mobilized by the Governments of Denmark and Norway to advance women's roles, rights and security throughout Burundi.

Since 1994, UNIFEM has supported women's participation in peacebuilding at the policy and grass-roots levels through its African Women in Crisis umbrella programme and the Engendering Peacebuilding and Mediation project. To introduce the work of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and empower women to present their priorities, UNIFEM helped to organize consultation workshops in 2006. This resulted in a communiqué listing key concerns for the Government and PBC to address, including: revising discriminatory laws; allocating resources to women's socio-economic development initiatives; preventing sexual and gender-based violence; and engendering disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programmes. Building on the momentum created through this consultation process, the new project will reflect the priorities identified by Burundian women.

For more information, contact Irene Zirimwabagabo, irene.zirimwabagabo[at]unifem.org